PCStorage Systems

Seagate Exos X vs WD Ultrastar vs Ironwolf Pro – Specs Comparison

Seagate Exos X vs WD Ultrastar vs Ironwolf Pro

Hyperscale cloud, CSPs, enterprises, intelligent video surveillance systems, NAS suppliers, and more need storage solutions to meet the exponential growth in data creation.

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Regarding cost-effective storage of data at scale, hard disk drives (HDDs) continue to play a central role. HDDs deliver the capability, performance, and dependability needed to store vast amounts of data today and in the future.

Investments in HDD technology remain critical to supporting worldwide data growth.

The storage requirements of any scenario can prove to be quite an important aspect. It is always practical to find the best options for the hard drives that would provide you access to an enhanced degree of experience.

With several manufacturers vying for the top spot, we thought of checking out a few great options for capable storage.

Also Read: Seagate EXOS 7E8 vs Ironwolf vs Hitachi He10

We will review and analyze three popular storage options, Seagate Exos, WD Ultrastar, and IronWolf hard drives, and find how they meet your needs making them one of the best options.

Related: HGST ULTRASTAR HE12 vs Seagate Exos

Seagate Exos X vs WD Ultrastar vs Ironwolf Pro – Comparison Table

Capacity16TB / 18TB / 20TB

Seagate Exos X

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18TB / IronWolf


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Ultrastar® DC HC560

WUH722020ALE6L1 WUH722020ALE6L4

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Interface12Gb/s SAS, 6Gb/s SATASATA 6Gb/sSATA 6Gb/s
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours)2.5 million1.2 M2.5 (Projected)
Reliability Rating @ Full 24×7 Operation (AFR)0.35%0.73%0.35%
Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read1 sector per 10E151 per 10E151 in 10>15
Power-On Hours per Year (24×7)8,760876024/7
Limited Warranty (years)555
Spindle Speed7,200 RPM72007200
Max. Sustained Transfer rate261MB/s260269/257
Random Read/Write 4K170/440 IOPS
Average Latency4.16ms4.164.16ms
Idle A (W) Average5W5.2W
Max Operating, Random Read/Write 4K/16Q (W)10.0, 6.3
Power Supply Requirements+12 V and +5 V+12V and +5V+5 VDC, +12VDC
Temperature, Operating5°C – 60°C5 to 65°C5° to 60°C
Vibration, Nonoperating2 to 500Hz (Grms) (XYZ)
Shock, Operating 2ms (Read/Write) (Gs)5050250 (2ms)
Shock, Nonoperating2ms (Gs)
Width101.85mm/4.010in101.85/4.01101.6 (+/-0.25) x 147

Seagate Exos Hard drive – A Concise Review

Seagate has expanded its already robust array of capable hard drives with the launch of the Seagate Exos HDD. The drives run to up to 16 TB, making it one of the unique options ever for most of your storage requirements.

That massive storage capability in a 3.5-inch form factor should make it a formidable choice. It would ideally make the Exos drives quite suitable for hyper-scale and cloud data centers, scale-out data centers, Big Data applications, and distributed file systems.

The drives are available in 14 TB and 16 TB sizes. The drive comes with helium-sealed construction. This can go a long way in helping you lower the total cost of ownership of the drive. You can opt for the drive-in of both SATA and SAS interface options. You can also check them out in standards and SED modes.

Yet another primary factor that makes the drives an excellent choice is their digital environmental sensors. This can help monitor the internal conditions, and in addition, you also get access to robust Seagate data security.

The specifications of the drive can be summarised as here below:

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Interface12Gb/s SAS, 6Gb/s SATA
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours)2.5 million
Reliability Rating @ Full 24×7 Operation (AFR)0.35%
Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read1 sector per 10E15
Power-On Hours per Year (24×7)8,760
Limited Warranty (years)5
Spindle Speed7,200 RPM
Max. Sustained Transfer rate261MB/s
Random Read/Write 4K170/440 IOPS
Average Latency4.16ms
Idle A (W) Average5W
Max Operating, Random Read/Write 4K/16Q (W)10.0, 6.3
Power Supply Requirements+12 V and +5 V
Temperature, Operating5°C – 60°C
Vibration, Nonoperating2 to 500Hz (Grms) 2.27
Shock, Operating 2ms (Read/Write) (Gs)50
Shock, Nonoperating2ms (Gs)

In terms of performance, you would find the drives offering you access to great efficiency for almost all given use case scenarios. The tests have shown that the drive performs well in both iSCSI and CIFS configurations.

Seagate IronWolf Hard drives – A Sneak peek

The Seagate IronWolf hard drives are designed as the company’s highest-capacity NAS drives. They provide you access to an always-on, always accessible 24 x 7 performance. These drives can be one of the choicest options for providing you access to a massive capacity and an added emphasis on endurance and reliability.

The drive should be a unique option for SMBs requiring durable storage. These hard drives have been designed to be one of the unique and practical options for large-scale, multi-user commercial NAS environments.

They would also double up as one of the unique options even for the use case scenarios in heavy workloads. The best part with the IronWolf drives is that they can be an excellent option to scale up as your data requirements grow consistently.

The Seagate IronWolf drive comes with Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR) and AgileArray. You can also be assured of higher NAS RAID performance and IOPS with Time-Limited Error Recovery.

The AgileArray technology can be valuable and helpful in letting you improve several parameters such as performance, reliability, and power management. The high-end durability of 300 TB per year for the 24 x 7 workloads should be what would make the hard drives one of the most unique options ever.

The vibration protection capability is another excellent option that you would find quite impressive in offering a very formidable performance in terms of improved tolerance for the multi-bay configurations.

IronWolf health management is one of the unique embedded software options. This tool is designed to help you with effective and efficient data prevention, intervention, and recovery.

The software has built-in algorithms that would analyze multiple critical health parameters. If it finds any action that can prevent or intervene, the action is put into place to ensure that the drive is protected and the data can be saved.

The IronWolf health management software lets you know before a drive’s actual failure so that the possibility of a data loss can be prevented. The software can also send the failure mode via output code to Seagate Customer Care for the corrective action if any.

The specifications of the drive would include:

Standard Model Number1ST18000NE000
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s
Drive Bays SupportedUp to 24-bay
Recording TechnologyCMR
Workload Rate Limit (TB/yr)300
Rotational Vibration (RV) SensorsYes
Hot-Plug Support2Yes
Cache (MB)256
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours)1.2M
Reliability Rating @ Full 24×7 Operation (AFR)0.73%
Non-recoverable Read Errors per Bits Read, Max1 per 10E15
Power-On Hours (per year)8760
Sector Size (Bytes per Logical Sector)512E
Rescue Services3Yes
 Limited Warranty (years)5
Spindle Speed (RPM)7200
Interface Access Speed (Gb/s)6.0, 3.0, 1.5
Max Sustained Transfer Rate OD (MB/s)260
Average Latency (ms)4.16
Rotational Vibration @10-1500Hz (rad/s2)12.5
Startup Current, Typical (12V, A)2.0
Idle Power, Average (W)5.2
Average Operating Power (W)8.0
Standby Mode (W)1.25
Sleep Mode (W)1.0
Power Supply Requirements+12V and +5V
Operating Temperature (reported, °C)45 to 65
Non-operating Temperature (ambient, min °C)-40 to 70
Non-operating Vibration 10Hz to 500Hz (Grms)2.27
Operating Shock 2 ms (Read/Write) (G)50
Non-operating Shock 1 ms and 2 ms (G)200
Idle Acoustics (typical, bels)2.8
Seek Acoustics (typical, bels)3.2
Height (mm/in, max)26.11/1.028
Width (mm/in, max)101.85/4.01
Depth (mm/in, max)146.99/5.787
Weight (g/lb, typical)670/1.477

The IronWolf drives from Seagate should be one of the unique options that you would find quite impressive and unique in its own right. This one is indeed the highest hard drive capacity that you would find quite impressive. The drive specifically built for the NAS applications should make it one of the options ever.

The drive should be one of the excellent options for every need you may have in terms of SMBs, large-scale, multi-user commercial NAS environments, and multi-media/creative professional server storage use cases.

Suppose you are looking to increase the storage capacity of your organization. In that case, this can be one of the unique options that would make it a compelling option on several counts.

WD Ultrastar hard drive – An Overview

The WD Ultrastar hard drives belong to enterprise-class drives that utilize HGST’s PMR and HelioSeal technology. They should make it one of the unique options for providing you access to enhanced reliability.

The drive comes in two different variants. You can use the 12Gb/s SAS3 version and a 6.0Gb/s SATA III drive.

You can choose the one based on your requirements regarding NAS devices or SAS applications. The drive is created explicitly for the scenarios such as massive, rack-dense storage arrays.

Like the ones we reviewed above, the Western Digital Ultrastar hard drive can be one of the excellent options with helium-filled drives. The HelioSeal technology from WD ensures they stay completely sealed and contaminant-free.

The technology hermetically seals off the disk chassis, thus avoiding the issues such as the ones affecting the air-filled drives. The technology is also capable of assisting you in decreasing turbulence and buffering.

When it comes to implementing the best possible storage options and devices, the brand Seagate is synonymous with spindle-based HDDs.

If you look at the best NAS drives and hard drive options, the Seagate IronWolf and Seagate Exos have been considered excellent options for providing you performance, and 24/7 operational reliability.

How do the Seagate IronWolf and Seagate Exos compare themselves? What specific features do they provide you? Let us explore the two drives’ prime features and compare them.

Seagate IronWolf and Seagate Exos – How do they compare with one another?

The two drives have been designed to provide a capable performance in a NAS setup. They are created to withstand an intensive I/O operation and can handle the data-heavy business operations. The tremendous spin speeds and expansive data capabilities offered by the NAS drives should further make it one best choices in the long run.

Despite the common aspects and features, the two drives also come with a few differences. Let us explore the differences between the two.

The technology used

One of the significant differences you would notice is that they use different technologies. The IronWolf Pro is the high-end drive in the Seagate’s IronWolf lineup.

The high-end IronWolf Pro drives are best suited for NAS applications, while the lower-level IronWolf drives are best suited for home networking and even home computing workloads. Seagate has added additional features and options for their IronWolf line to optimize them for small and medium business applications.

The IronWolf Pro lineup comes with drives and storage capabilities of up to 20 TB. The drives offer you cutting-edge helium filling technology.

Helium is a low-density gas and thus provides you access to optimum drive performance.

The drives filled with helium would run faster and get cooler relatively faster. That would mean they can be used with a higher capacity.

The Exos lineup is a step ahead of the IronWolf range of drives. They, too, come with helium filling technology and offer the same functionality as the IronWolf counterparts.

The only difference between the IronWolf and Exos lineup is that only a few select drives from the IronWolf lineup come with Helium filling technology. In the case of the Exos lineup, every drive comes with the Helium filling technology.

Exos lineup has two variants. One is the Exos X10 lineup, which offers a drive capacity of 8 TB and 10 TB. The X12 lineup comes with the capacity of 12 TB and 14 TB. The two lineups among themselves are pretty different.

The X12 lineup offers you access to a Sustained Data Rate (SDR) of up to 261Mb/s, but Exos X10 drives only have an SDR of 254MB/s. The X10 lineup is optimized for hyper-scale and conventional data center applications, but the X12 lineup is optimized for hyper-scale applications.

The Major Differences

Let us now explore the significant differences between the two drives can include

Workload Optimisation – workload optimization refers to the amount of data that a drive can handle per year. The Exos lineup comes with the capacity to handle 550TB of reading and writing per year. The IronWolf range can only handle up to 300 reading and writing per year.

Data rescue services – The IronWolf drives, by default come with the data rescue services. In the case of the Exos drives, the service is optional and accessed separately.

Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)- This metric refers to a drive’s average time to fail. The MTBF for the IronWolf Pro series is 1.2 million hours, and the MTBF for the Exos line is 2.5 million hours.

Bay Support option – In the case of the IronWolf Pro drives, you would be able to set up 24 drives in one unit. The bay support for the Exos series is unlimited.

NAS optimization technology – The IronWolf range of drives is equipped with the AgileArray technology. However, the Exos lineup boasts of an enterprise-level optimized framework that is more advanced.

RAID Optimization – If you are looking ahead to the best RAID applications, you will find that Exos is best suited for the purpose. The IronWolf range of devices may not be the right option for the large RAID implementations as they can work only with 24 other drives.

Cache Types – The IronWolf range of drives come with a write-back caching policy. This may be an outdated and inefficient caching technology and may not be a good idea. The Exos range of drives provides you access to a write-through policy. The technology is designed to provide you access to excellent efficiency and quality. This will ensure that the cache line is clean enough.

The Pros and Cons offered by the two drives

Having gone through the prime features offered by the two different drive types, let us check out the Pros and Cons of the two drives.

IronWolf Drives


  • Excellent adaptability provides access to one of the exciting operations within the price range and usability for the average customer. They can be a perfect option for both amateurs and experts alike.
  • A good drive for both small or medium business NAS applications.
  • No need to invest in data recovery services as it comes with support for free data recovery options
  • They come with a pre-equipped drive health application that can resolve the potential drive issues if any.


  • Limited applications.

Exos Drives


  • A significant degree of potential in terms of an enhanced functionality
  • The high-end responsiveness.


  • The drives are pretty expensive

The Spec sheet comparison

Having checked the best options offered by the two drives, let us examine the specifications of the drives in a tabular comparison chart.

Drive typeHDDHDD
Cache256 MB128 MB
CapacityAvailable in different sizesAvailable in different sizes
Rotational speed7200 rpm7200 rpm
Form factor3.5 inch3.5 inch
Transfer rate214 MB per sec249 MB per sec
OS compatibilityWindowsWindows
FeaturesMulti-User Technology, Drive Bays Supported, Rotational Vibration sensors, Hot-Plug SupportIndustry’s Highest Performance, Innovative Helium Design, Enhanced Enterprise Reliability, Data Protection, and Security
Wattage7.8 W5 W
Warranty5 years3 years
CertificationsCE, ICCCE, ICC, RoHS

To Summerize

Both Seagate IronWolf and Exos drives come with suitable applications. Which one among them should you choose? Well, your choice would essentially be dependent on the intended application. The IronWolf drive should be the best suited for small-scale applications. It can leap for up to medium-sized businesses.

Since the 24-bay maximum compatibility limits the IronWolf drives, they would be unsuitable for enterprise applications. The drive’s spin speed and capacity would make it ideal for businesses with more than 50 but less than 500 employees.

The Exos range of drives should be one of the excellent options for complete functionality. With the maximum storage capacity of 14 TB and full bay compatibility, they can be best suited for NAS applications. The drives from the Seagate Exos lineup are the top-of-the-line drives from Seagate and should suit any enterprise application.

The Concluding Thoughts

Well, that was all about the three capable hard drives and how competent they can be in providing you with excellent efficiency and one of the best service qualities ever.

The spec sheet and other parameters should ideally provide you with one of the excellent options for achieving one of the most exciting experiences ever.

The Helium-based hard drives should be what would provide you with one of the choicest options ever. All three options here should ideally make them best suited for the enhanced requirements.

You can check out each of the options outlined and explained here and get access to one of the most unique experiences ever. Go through the best options available at your disposal and get access to an enhanced degree of data storage experience.

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